IN a country on the verge of bankruptcy, a country which lost regional and international confidence, a country whose legislators are slammed with sanctions; insecurity moves between areas while its economy is suffering from choking crisis and the spread of narcotics among its population like wildfire.
Indeed, this is the present Lebanon where the paradigm is influenced by Iran through its tools, such as how the Hezbollah militia group is running the show in the country. Once upon a time, Lebanon was the lungs of freedom in the Arab world in terms of sanctuary, terrorism and media.
Today, this country is enduring all kinds of miseries which foretell nothing but the worst. The situation is driving away Arab investors searching for a more stable environment to invest their wealth, far from the militia exploitation of Hezbollah and its kind.
Frankly, the sanctions imposed by the US on two Hezbollah legislators will not be the end of the story; but the start of a trend of sanctions on political figures in the country.
According to the path the US is taking in terms of sanctions, it is gradually barricading this terrorist group. Without a doubt, more names are waiting to be listed not only among Hezbollah legislators and ministers, but also the allied forces.
With every break of dawn, Lebanon goes backwards in every aspect. The financial system is under international oversight because Hezbollah has transformed the entire Lebanon into a huge washing machine for laundering money in the Arab world.
Its economy continues to shrink and its international credit rating dropped at a time public debt continued to soar to make it appear that a black hole is swallowing every support without showing a glimmer of hope that things will get better.
This predicament is due to what is known as the ‘crippled third’ in the government, which started 20 years ago when Hezbollah began participating in the rule.
The premier became a mere observer and the leader of the republic has no authority amidst Hezbollah’s influence in all establishments in the country.
Demonstrations intensified in recent months as people are protesting against poor living conditions, increasing number of youth migration, alarming unemployment rate, and the crime rate becoming a daily topic in Lebanese press due to the interference of Hezbollah in the security apparatus.
The judicial system is also suffering from a major crisis. It seems unable to regain confidence, especially globally, unless Hezbollah and its kind go.
Undoubtedly, the Arab countries, particularly the GCC, have exerted tremendous efforts in reviving the Lebanese economy. They provided a lot of aid, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. However, these countries realized that the support they gave to Lebanon ended up in finding terrorism represented by Hezbollah and its kind.
With the tough sanctions in place, this militia group has come up with a new way of funding itself – imposing donations on ordinary people who are hardly earning their daily bread due to the choking livelihood crisis.
As comical as it may sound, the Houthis in Yemen donated about 75 million Yemeni riyals – equivalent to about $100,000 – to Hezbollah. This is happening while Yemenis are starving because of the war that the Houthis brought upon themselves. In other words, these gangs are preventing the Yemenis and Lebanese from keeping their daily bread in order to fund themselves.
This dark image of Lebanon under the influence of Hezbollah indicates that the worst is yet to come, and that the situation will never improve as long as Hezbollah remains in the game in Lebanon.
Therefore, the Lebanese must unite and reject this group’s practices. They should stand together in front of the group in order to regain their country; or else, the rope of sanctions that the international community and the US administration are putting around the Lebanese neck, in addition to the cold treatment of Arabs and the European Union’s abandonment will leave this country in ruins with Hezbollah’s owl hooting on these ruins.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times